Cerro Pabellón, first geothermal plant in South America

Mario HonrubiaInnovationSustainabilityengineersminingmining industry

Cerro Pabellón is the first geothermal plant in South America and it was opened in March in Ollagüe, at 4.500 meters above the sea level in Antofagasta region. It’s a project of Enap and Enel together which cost around US$320 millions and nowadays supplies of 48MW to the SING (Interconnected System of Norte Grande). In spite of the fact that the first unit has been working since March, the second one was recently opened in September and it still has not started working.  For this reason, the plant is only producing half of its power yet.

First geothermal plant in South America

“It’s about a binary cycle that expels heat and warm water together, which is to say, it’s a bi-phase fluid. It’s something very technical, but for us is very important because, with this technology, many horizons for the development of the geothermal energy can be opened in Chile and outside of it. That’s why this is technically a very important plant for us”, explained Starace to La Tercera. This kind of projects is very good for Chile because they give to the country the chance to obtain a clean, endless and varied energy. first geothermal plant in South America

The Benefits

The two units have 24MW of gross power, which is an equal of 48 MW of total power. Once the second plant is working, they will produce 340 GWh approximately every year. That number is the same to the household consumption of more than 165.000 houses each year and from a sustainable point of view, it’ll avoid the emission of more than 166.000 metric tons of CO2 to the atmosphere.

The future

Enel is not only thinking in Ollagüe when it comes to geothermal energy but also in the others 16.800 hectares that the Colorado concession has in the Antofagasta region, besides the 74.804 of San Jose I in the RM foothills and the 74.101 of Yeguas Muertas close to the Rancagua city. Currently, they are exploring these areas and working for the future. Do you believe that the geothermal energy is good for this country? Where in Chile do you believe that these could be well located? Join our engineering community here